Over the past 12 months, Indian Telecom Operators have started disclosing Data Revenues and metrics separately to give a sense of the performance of Data Networks in India. Currently, data revenue is being driven by 2G data, as 3G smartphone penetration is still low and 90% of data subscribers are still on 2G. However, 3G data revenue is set to pick up. On the back of rising investments in 3G networks, improving smartphone penetration and narrowing data pricing arbitrage between 2G and 3G.
Data pickup should be more visible in 2013 as Most phones being sold in India, even at the low end, are now data-enabled. Almost 20% of subscribers for the incumbents are using data services – Airtel has reported a 58% increase in data usage over the past six months. Currently, 3G networks cover about 30% of subscribers – this is set to increase further on the back of low incremental rentals to load a tower with 3G. Analysts expect an increase in telecom operators’ and handset vendors’ marketing spends on data
The Following Chart shows the Comparison of 2G / 3G Data Revenues, Customers, ARPU, Bandwidth Consumed by Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications.
3G pickup has been slow due to low smartphone penetration and the price arbitrage between 2G and 3G data plans. By cutting 3G data prices and by recently hiking 2G data prices customers will eventually migrate to HSPA. What say ?